The Waldorf-Astoria: hyphenated hotel and a family scandal

Most family scandals don’t result in hotel construction. However, the famed Waldorf-Astoria owes its existence to the Astor family quarrel. The Astor fortune was divided between two branches of the Astor family headed by the two grandsons of the dynasty founder – John Jacob Astor III and William Backhouse Astor, Jr. Each of them had…

The Knickerbocker – a Hotel and a Dry Martini

There are West Coast and East Coast versions of the origins of a martini cocktail. The West Coast stories usually feature a rough character challenging a bartender to mix him a drink before venturing into the town of Martinez to look for gold, or an even rougher personage coming back from Martinez with a fortune…

The St. Regis or What do Napoleon, Dalí and Marilyn Monroe have in common?

Architects: Trowbridge and Livingston Built: 1904 Although there is seemingly nothing in common between Napoleon Buonaparte and the 17th-century French monk named Francis Regis, these names strangely come together in the story of the St. Regis Hotel in New York. Built in 1904 by John Jacob Astor IV as the most opulent hotel in the world, it…

St. Patrick’s Cathedral – one spectacular folly!

Architect: James Renwick Jr. Built: 1858-1879 John Hughes, Archbishop of New York, had a vision for a new, grandiose Catholic cathedral that would offset the indignities suffered by the Catholics in 19th century New York. They called it Hughes’ folly. Up until the 19th century, New York was a Protestant stronghold with an insignificant Catholic…

The Flatiron – what’s in the name?

Architect Daniel H. Burnham Date 1902 What better way to advertise a successful company than to have a striking building bear its name! The Fuller Company, one of the largest construction companies in the United States (aka the world), erected a highly unusual building to house its headquarters that was to be called the Fuller…

The Plaza – Where Nothing Unimportant Ever Happens

  It was once said that “Nothing unimportant ever happens in the Plaza.” One of America’s finest and most celebrated luxury hotels, it has the distinction of being the one and only. There is only one Plaza. The Plaza, the most expensive hotel in the city’s history, opened amidst much fanfare on October 1, 1907, being…

Consuelo Vanderbilt – A Wedding on Fifth Avenue

The main American export of the Gilded Age was not the dry goods, not the elevators, not trains, not even technology… it was the American bride. Refined, educated, and groomed for every social situation, exquisitely dressed, beautiful and fantastically wealthy the American heiresses, joined in matrimony with the English aristocracy, formed a seemingly perfect union…

“Mesopotamian” in Manhattan

Although New York skyscrapers bear no restraint in height or a lack of diversity in architectural influences, colorful they are not! What separates the Fred F. French Building from the rest is its warm hue and multicolored decorations. The only “Mesopotamian” or “Babylonian” inspired skyscraper in Manhattan, The Fred F. French Building, is covered in…

Tiffany Blue

If you ever wanted to paint a room with that delicate shade of robin egg blue – you are fresh out of luck! Pantone color No. 1837, called Tiffany Blue, is trademarked by Tiffany and Co and not commercially available. Also trademarked is a little blue box with the white satin ribbon tied around it:…